* Must read on the minimum wage from Jonathan Chait, who finds that surveying GOP reactions to multiple CBO reports reveals GOP economic priorities with extraordinary clarity. The big picture is hiding right there in plain sight.
* Even as the debate over the CBO report rages, the Gap announces it will raise its minimum wage for some 65,000 employees:
“The people in our company who engage directly with our customers carry an incredible responsibility,” [CEO Glenn] Murphy said. “Our success is a result of their hard work, love of fashion and commitment. We hope this decision provides them with some additional support as they grow their careers with Gap Inc.”
* Obama seizes on the Gap news to renew the push for a minimum wage hike for 16.5 million workers, though the conventional wisdom is that the CBO report has left the proposal even deader in Congress than it was before.
* Aviva Shen has an interesting take on why the Gap took this step:
While many retailers claim that they cannot afford to pay the minimum wage without firing employees or raising prices, research shows that companies paying low wages stand to benefit from the huge stimulus a wage hike would bring to poor workers who spend most of their income on basic needs like food and clothing…Additionally, employees tend to work harder and stay at their company longer after their wages increase. Chains like Costco, Whole Foods, Boloco, and In-N-Out Burger have all embraced higher wages for these reasons.
* Meanwhile, Walmart is furiously debunking rumors it was even considering taking such a step, but even Walmart acknowledges there could be potential benefits in a federal minimum wage hike:
If such a proposal were enacted, Walmart would weigh the costs of raising worker wages against the benefits of 140 million customers seeing a boost in their paychecks, [Walmart spokesman David] Tovar told HuffPost. “It’s difficult to gauge that impact,” he said.
* California announced today that it has already exceeded its projected numbers for the 2014 Obamacare enrollment period:
By the end of January, 728,410 people had enrolled in private health plans through Covered California, and 100,000 more signed up in the first two weeks of February. About 26% are 34 and younger.
Little by little, we’re heading deeper into the realm of the concrete, where it will require ever more strenuous efforts by Obamacare foes to pretend those benefitting from the law simply don’t exist.
* Rosalind Helderman has a comprehensive overview of the emerging Scott Walker emails and why they may already be dimming his 2016 hopes.
* The GOP-aligned U.S. Chamber of Commerce is up with a new ad on behalf of Mitch McConnell that vows he’ll “fix” the Obamacare “mess.” The ad doesn’t mention “repeal.” The Chamber has more or less accepted the law, illustrating yet again the gap between pragmatic GOP-aligned business leaders and those who will fight on against Obamacare until the end of time.
* Also see Jed Lewison on what the new Chamber ad tells us about the increasingly untenable GOP repeal stance.
* Zack Roth on the success GOP officials are having in blocking a “Voters Bill of Rights” in Ohio, which could have major implications for the continuing GOP push to restrict access to voting there, and by extension, on the outcome of future presidential contests.
* Meanwhile, Ohio Republicans are moving forward successfully with plans to cut down on early voting. Remember, the Obama campaign won a critical battle over early voting in this crucial swing state in the run-up to Election Day 2012.
* And iVote, the new Dem Super PAC that’s entering the voting wars, puts out a statement blasting the Ohio legislative move as a reminder that getting more serious about organizing the national fight for more voting access may be long overdue.
* And via Ed Kilgore, you’ll be startled to hear that Republican claims that dissuaded workers from voting to form a union at a VW plant just may turn out to be 180 degrees at odds with reality.